Fannie Coralie Perkins was born in Boston in 1880 and quickly realized that her life would be based around helping others. Perkins, who later changed her name to Frances, worked with Jane Addams at the Hull House in Chicago and later worked for the Tammany Hall political machine and then-governor of New York, Al Smith.
However, it was a coincidental incident that made Perkins become so passionate about workplace reform. In 1910, Perkins was eating lunch in Greenwich Village when she heard the alarm bells at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. From this moment on, Perkins dedicated her life to reforming workplace conditions.
In 1933, FDR appointed Perkins to Secretary of Labor, making her the first female to serve in a presidential cabinet. Although Downey pointed out that this achievement was monumental, she insisted that Perkins is still “one of the least-known, most important social progressives in history.”
Perkins continued to rise in fame, as she was involved in an enormous expansion of government and regulations as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. She championed the establishment of a minimum wage and a social security program for all workers.
Source cited: http://cornellsun.com/print/35946